A Melody Stuck On Replay

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A stuffed yellow care bear with a smiling sun sewn across her tummy; a stalk of
sunflower in full bloom; a bar of Cadbury milk chocolate, or a smile from the football
player that sits in the back row of the class, any of these could bring a smile to a
girl. However, nothing could bring a smile to her face the way music could. Like the
rising sun from the horizon at the break of dawn, her eyes stole the sun beams
when she rattled on about the music bands that mattered to her. On the Friday of
the interview, Melbourne’s weather seemed to take the persona of a 3-year-old who
could not make up her mind on what to have for dinner, and yet, the alternate
drizzle and sunshine did not dampen the spirits of 19-year-old Monisha Vishvanath.
Monisha’s love for music started six years ago with a punk rock band and their
song on the radio. Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day changed the way she
viewed music and introduced her to a different genre of music. “You know, I’m
Indian and there is this stereotype that Indians and Sri Lankans are into Hip-Hop
and RnB. My friends would ask me why am I listening to white music,” she
commented with an amused laughter, “but I like my bands. A lot.”
“It is my nice and relaxed little place,” Monisha told of the auditory bubble she
retreats into when she puts on her earphones and hit the play button to her playlist
on iTunes. This playlist is a compilation of songs from her favourite music bands.
Monisha recalled the time when she completed Year 6 and moved on to Year 7, she
did not look forward to the start of high school. Her 14-year-old self rejected the
idea of change and having to re-adjust to the process of making new friends. “Year
8 was much better, but I really hated Year 7,” she lamented.

She sought refuge in her music and two years ago, Monisha’s first gig experience at
the Melbourne Rod Lava Arena got her to start crossing off Cobra Starship, The
Academy Is..., and Panic! At The Disco off her list of ‘Bands to Meet or Watch Live.’
“My friends and I were there three hours early. It was only when we were about to
enter the arena when we realised that we were in the wrong line all along. So we
couldn’t make it to the front,” she narrated the events of the day that resembled a
child on the way home after the first day of kindergarten, slipping in bouts of
laughter at the same time. When it sounded as though it was a disappointment after
three hours of queuing, Monisha slid back in her chair and relieved that moment
back in August 2008, ‘It was the most amazing mosh pit I was ever in! And after all
that, I got to the front! Any nearer, I would be on stage.’
Music seemed to manifest as a physical presence in Monisha’s life. Like a guiding
hand leading her through life’s experiences, there are songs that lift her spirits in
times of despair and songs that lift her to her feet and groove along to the beat.
Everyone has that song that tops their personal Billboard Chart, and no matter how
many times a playlist is played over, that song would never lose its spot as ‘Top of
the Charts’. That is the power of music – the invisible strings that tug on our
emotions and call the shots on our puppet feelings. Monisha described a song that
possesses such mastery, “‘Mad World’ by Gary Jules. That song makes me sad. I
could be in a good mood and listening to this song would take my happiness

Clad in a black hooded jumper, her shoulder-length hair is held together in a
ponytail with her fringe tucked loosely behind her right ear. The cuffs of her dark
blue jeans reached down to the soles of her grey Converse sneakers, only revealing
the front of her shoes. There, in slightly faded black ink, two signatures stood out
from the white rubber front on both sides of Monisha’s sneakers. The signature on
the right shoe belongs to Jamie Follese, drummer of Hot Chelle Rae, and the
signature on the left belongs to Ryan Keith Follese, lead singer and frontman of Hot
Chelle Rae.
Monisha is a year one Science student at Monash University. Other than the school
assignments that take up most of her time, Monisha is also a moderator of a f---
yeah Tumblr fansite for the frontman of Hot Chelle Rae. “I wanted to set up
something for them after their show in Melbourne, but everything was taken. Almost
every band has a f---yeah page,” she said with a break in her voice. Monisha got
her wish when the moderator of f---yeahryankeithfollese.tumblr.com got her to be
part of the management team of the fan site.
Hot Chelle Rae is a quartet from Nashville, Tennessee. This quartet consists of Ryan
Follese as the lead vocalist and rhythmic guitar; Nash Overstreet as the lead
guitarist; Ian Keaggy as the bassist, and Jamie Follese as the drummer. They
graced Australia’s shores in July this year, and made Australia the country for their
first ever overseas performance. While they were here, they did an interview with
Australia's, NW Magazine. The magazine crowned them Nashville’s Finest Pop

When Hot Chelle Rae was in town as a support for another American pop rock
band, Boys Like Girls, Monisha was prepping herself for Hot Chelle Rae’s second
Melbourne performance in The Hi-Fi Bar on Swanston Street on the 15th of July
2010. Their debut Melbourne performance was an ‘Under 18’ show the day before.
“I was actually more excited for Hot Chelle Rae than Boys Like Girls!” she leaned
forward in her chair and whispered with a grin that hinted a slight guilt at the conflict
of her music preferences.
Monisha is no stranger to the band Hot Chelle Rae. She had heard of the band
before they came down to Australia for their performance. Monisha owns their
dance-rock debut album, Lovesick Electric, and as though her mind is a CD player,
she could hit ‘play’ and sing you any song from the album. Monisha chirped, “I
remember this one ride to school when I played Lovesick Electric in my friend’s car
three times and I converted all of them. They are Firestarters now.”
The name ‘Firestarters’ came about when a fan asked on Hot Chelle Rae’s official
twitter account: What do you call Hot Chelle Rae’s fans if Lady Gaga’s fans are
termed Monsters and Justin Bieber’s fans are known as Beliebers, and Ryan
Follese answered, “Firestarters. Suits the wildfire like spread of music.”
Flashback to the 15th of July 2010. Monisha and three other friends arrived two
hours early before the opening of the doors at 7.30 p.m.. Monisha sighed when she
said, “Two hours early and we were not first in line.” The line snaked down
Swanston Street on an eight degrees Thursday evening, attracting the attention of
passer-bys and onlookers. There was only one thought on the minds of the people

in the queue, including Monisha and her friends, “Maybe we get to see the boys
before the show starts.”
After the show, Monisha and her friends stayed behind to wait for the band
members to greet the fans. In her hands, she clutched on to a rectangular dark blue
coloured box, which contained random articles put together to remind Hot Chelle
Rae of their trip to Melbourne. The box contained bits and pieces of Australia – A
bottle of Vegemite, stuffed kangeroos and koalas, a boomerang, a pack of Original
flavoured Tim Tams and a postcard that read ‘I HEART Melbourne.’ When she
handed the box to Ryan Follese, she tried to piece together an opening statement
like how she pieced the contents of the box together. She took a deep breath and
with the expulsion of that one single breath, “This is for you guys,” was all she
could manage. “They mentioned the box in an interview they did after. It made me
so happy knowing that I gave them something to remember Melbourne’s fans. It is
so awesome that they love Melbourne so much,” she clapped her hands together in
“We were talking to them in person! They stayed behind to talk to us even though it
was already close to 11 p.m. and they had a 4 a.m. flight back to the States,”
Monisha said. Monisha would never forget the events of the day of 15th July 2010.
Pictures with Ryan, Nash and Jamie were taken and stored in her camera, and all
that was needed to complete a montage of ‘Hot Chelle Rae’s Melbourne
Performance’ was a picture with Ian. Time was running out when security started to
shut the venue, and asking everyone to leave. She managed to catch hold of Ian,
and got the photo she wanted. Words failed Monisha when she opened and closed

her mouth repeatedly, trying to find the right words to describe that night, “I don’t
know, it was just awesome.”
Monisha does not see Hot Chelle Rae as another pop rock band that the American
music scene discovered. “They are an inspiration,” she says. Out of the eleven
songs from the album, Monisha picked one where she could relate to, “Somehow, I
can put my life into it. I can imagine myself feeling this heartache if I was a part of
this long distance relationship.” The seventh song of their album, The Distance,
sings the pain of a pair of lovers who are torn apart by separation. With lyrics of the
song that says, “It’s like you’re living with a ghost, someone you can’t hold and you
say it’s so unfair”, “The distance makes it hard to breathe, my heart won’t let go
easily, I don’t want to be this far away”, and “Well I’ve got my life, and you’ve got
my world tonight. And I miss you.”
When it comes down to appearance, the four members of Hot Chelle Rae would be
hired as poster boys for the looks department, and yet, their looks does not
overshadow their musical capabilities. The vocals, guitar solos, drum beats and
accompanied bass notes put together is a foursome of musical fidelity that would
be incomplete with either element. Like a present neatly wrapped in a shiny
wrapper and tied together with a bow, the package of Hot Chelle Rae is completed
with a heart of gratitude and appreciation for their fans, and always taking the time
out to interact with their fans on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and
MySpace. “They are so sweet. They would take the time to read through their
tweets and reply their fans. They don’t have to do any of these, yet they do. As
fans, we really appreciate it,” Monisha sighs with contentment.

And naturally, when Monisha was asked to pick a song and sing any lines from it,
she picked one of Hot Chelle Rae’s creation, A World We’ll Never Find, which did
not make it to the Lovesick Electric album – A flower blooms, I watch it die. The sun
it sets, I watch it rise again.